The Denver Broncos have signed wide receiver Demaryius Thomas to a new five-year, $70 million contract, but did they evaluate the deal correctly?
An agreement was made between the two sides before the franchise tag deadline on a deal with $45.5 million guaranteed, $11 million signing bonus, and a $14 million average salary over the next five years.
The deal was structured in a similar way to Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys' deal, who signed his contract just hours before. Bryant was also drafted two picks after Thomas, going 24th overall in the 2010 NFL Draft.
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John Elway, the general manager of the Broncos, said the following to The Denver Post:
"Well, we had our number set out. We tried to figure out what was correct value for us and Demaryius.
"It took awhile to get to that point. We wanted to get a deal done. They knew that. And 'DT' wanted to be in Denver. It was a matter of getting to those terms."
The Pro Bowler will be a free agent again once 2020 comes around, so have the Broncos made the right call to sign him up until then?
Over the past four seasons with the Broncos, Thomas has been ruling the AFC West.
In the last three seasons, the 27-year-old has managed to score 35 touchdowns season thanks to a good connection with quarterback Peyton Manning. With the five-time MVP under center, Thomas has also racked up 297 catches for 4,483 yards.
Some of these numbers are better than the Detroit Lions' Calvin Johnson, who only managed 277 catches for 4,533 yards and 25 touchdowns. Thomas is only 50 yards away from Johnson in receiving yards.
Elway believes Thomas deserves this new contract because of these achievements.
"It's very well-deserved on his part. We think he's coming into his prime," Elway said. "The expectations are going to be increased. But he has all the skills."
The Broncos did evaluate the deal correctly, but will Thomas be able to carry on these great numbers after Manning retires?
Larry Fitzgerald and Kurt Warner
A case to look at for some possible indication to the future is Arizona Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald after the retirement of Kurt Warner. At this time, the eight-time Pro Bowler was around the same age Thomas is now.
In the last three seasons before Warner retired, Fitzgerald achieved 293 catches for 3,932 yards and 35 touchdowns. His numbers back then almost match Thomas' numbers today.
In the three seasons that followed, the Cardinals struggled to achieve a .500 season. They were switching quarterbacks consistently and this had a cost on Fitzgerald's production during what should have been his prime.
Fitzgerald managed to obtain 241 catches for 3,346 yards and only 18 touchdowns over that three year period. This wasn't because Fitzgerald was bad, but because there wasn't a good enough quarterback for him at the helm.
Things are starting to pick up for the Cardinals now as they have managed two good seasons with Carlson Palmer under center, but it may have come too late for Fitzgerald.
The important thing for the Broncos to address when Manning does decide to retire is their quarterback situation. They need to bring someone in that can replicate at least 90 per cent of the production Manning provides, to keep Thomas in form.
If they don't, they could easily follow the same path the Cardinals did, and ultimately reduce the effectiveness of Thomas.
This would make this new contract unnecessary as the team would be restricting his potential.
BRONCOS FANS: ARE YOU HAPPY THAT DEMARYIUS THOMAS IS SIGNED UP ON A LONG-TERM DEAL? HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO REPLACE MANNING WHEN HE RETIRES? HAVE YOUR SAY IN THE COMMENTS BELOW...
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